What is a Full Bodied Wine?
Of all the jargon you hear when someone describing a wine, more often than not you will come across the term body. Rest assured there is no reference or comparison to a human body here but the structure of a wine!
The question worth asking here is ‘why does the body of a wine matter?’ You may not think much of it, but it has an impact on your drinking experience. Depending on when and where you are drinking wine, it will make body of a wine will make all the difference. At a brunch, you will find yourself drinking a light bodied easy drinking wine over a heavy wine simply because firstly, during the day its easier to drink a fresh white wine and secondly the food served will also be on a simpler side. Similarly, if you are a four course meal in the evening preference for a heavier wine, red or white, is more. Body of a wine is also important when it comes to pairing food and wine, sparkling wines generally tend to be medium bodied and therefore go with a wide variety of appetizers and salads. Full bodied white wines go well with poultry and cream based dishes and of course full bodied red wines go well with game.
Think of how your mouth feels when you drink a glass of milk (not the skimmed variety) and when you drink water or juice. Milk because of its texture and viscosity envelopes your mouth compared to water which leaves no impact at all. Its similar for wines, in simpler terms it is how the wine coats your palate and mouth when you take a sip.
A lot of factors can contribute to the body of a wine. The mouth-feel and texture that a wine gets is from the alcohol and extracts like tannin, sugar and acids. Alcohol percentage adds viscosity to the wine; more the alcohol more full bodied is the wine. Similarly more tannin in a wine more body the wine will have, which is why darker looking wines or wines made from thicker skinned grapes usually have have a full body. Another factor is the wine making process. The more the extraction from the grapes, more intense and bodied the wine.
Full Bodied Wine
A wine with more than 13.5% alcohol is considered full bodied. This along with tannin makes majority of red wines full bodied. White wines too can be full bodied, depending on the grape variety and whether it has undergone oak treatment.
After you sip and swallow your wine, your mouth will feel as if it has rich coating of wine. Wines made from grape varietals like Mourvedre, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, etc, will leave such an impact. In white wines, Gewürztraminer and warm country oak aged Chardonnay are full bodied.
Medium Bodied Wine
Wines with alcohol percentage between 12-13.5% are considered medium bodied. Both red and white wines fit this criteria easily.
These wines will cover your palate after you drink it but it won’t be as strong and dominating as a full bodied wine. Wines like Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc are known to be medium bodied.
Light Bodied Wine
Wines with less than 12% alcohol are considered light bodied. Most white wines will fall in this category.
With low alcohol, these light bodied wines are simple and easy to drink like Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gamay.